International Admissions

CCA’s culture of inclusion and collaboration offers an ideal learning environment for international students to do their best work. You’ll join a creative community where one-third of all students are international. We empower students from over 50 countries to create work that makes the world a better place.


Develop your artistic talents at CCA, where international students get the support they need to succeed.

Students working in the studio at the San Francisco Campus.jpg

Grow your skills in a collaborative community

From submitting your admissions application to applying for your visa, we provide the personalized support you need to pursue your career in the arts. Our global community of artists, makers, and entrepreneurs is ready to welcome international students to an exciting studio culture at CCA through summer programs, clubs, events, and more. You’ll also have easy access to thriving industries in design and technology, thanks to CCA’s central location in the San Francisco Bay Area’s arts and design hub.

How to Apply

Starting the international admissions process

Application requirements

To apply for admission to CCA, international students must create, gather, and submit the following:

  • An online application and nonrefundable application fee of $70 USD
  • Personal essay
  • High school and/or university transcripts
  • One letter of recommendation
  • Portfolio (log in to SlideRoom)
  • Proof of English proficiency (TOEFL, IELTS, C1 Advanced/CAE, CEFR, and PTE)
  • Resume (graduate students only)

If you have questions about the application process, please email us at [email protected]. If you have unofficial versions of documents required for your application, you can email them for review at [email protected].

Note: A portfolio is optional for students applying to the MBA in Design Strategy program.

Graduate-specific requirements

If you need an F-1 visa to attend CCA, you’ll receive immigration information after paying your nonrefundable graduate enrollment deposit of $500 USD online using WebAdvisor ($115 is applied to registration fees, and $385 is applied to your fall semester).

Select the graduate program you’re interested in below to learn how to apply:

Admissions process documents available in Korean, Chinese, and Spanish as a PDF download

Admissions process in other languages

To simplify the enrollment process for international students, we have translations of CCA's international admissions process and requirements available in Simplified Chinese and Korean.

For United States citizens whose primary language is Spanish, we also offer a Spanish translation of CCA’s admissions process and requirements.

Transcripts: Transfer and second-degree applicants

If you plan to transfer academic credits earned at non-U.S. institutions, you must submit a translated evaluation of your postsecondary (college) transcript(s). We recommend you use World Education Services (WES) or another evaluation agency recommended by the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES) to prepare such an evaluation.

English proficiency requirements

Unless English is the official language of your home country, you must submit one of the following test scores:

  • Official Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
  • Cambridge English: C1 Advanced (formerly known as CAE)
  • Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)
  • Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic)

Scores are valid for two years from when the test was originally taken. If more than two years have passed, you must retake the test for CCA to consider it as part of your application.

Sending your ETS and CEEB scores to CCA

When preparing to take these tests or to request your scores, use the following school codes:

  • TOEFL, IELTS, and SAT: 4031
  • ACT: 0176

Undergraduate testing requirements


CCA accepts paper-based (PBT) and Internet-based (iBT) versions of the (TOEFL) exam. International undergraduate applicants must earn a minimum score of 550 on the PBT or 80 on the iBT.


CCA accepts an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) minimum score of 6.5 or higher.

C1 Advanced (formerly known as CAE)

CCA accepts a Cambridge English: C1 Advanced minimum score of Grade C or higher.


CCA accepts a Common European Framework of Reference for Languages minimum score of C1 or higher.

PTE Academic

CCA accepts a Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic) minimum score of 58 or greater.

Graduate testing requirements


CCA accepts paper-based (PBT) and Internet-based (iBT) versions of the TOEFL exam. CCA international graduate applicants must achieve a minimum score of 100 on the iBT or 600 on the PBT.


CCA accepts a minimum International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of 7.5 or higher.

C1 Advanced (formerly known as CAE)

CCA accepts a Cambridge English: C1 Advanced minimum score of Grade B or higher.


CCA accepts a minimum Common European Framework of Reference for Languages score of C2 or higher.

PTE Academic

CCA accepts a minimum Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic) score of 73 or higher.

How do you qualify for an English proficiency waiver?

If you’re an international student who has studied and graduated from a college in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, or Australia within the last five years of submitting a graduate application, you’re eligible to have the English proficiency exam waived.

If more than five years have passed since graduating, you must take and pass one of the above English language proficiency exams.

Conditional admissions

Occasionally, students can be accepted to CCA on the condition that they enroll and complete an approved English language course and submit proof of English proficiency.

Conditional admissions

What if you receive a conditional letter of acceptance from CCA?

If you haven’t met the minimum English requirement but have met all remaining CCA undergraduate admissions requirements, you’ll receive a conditional letter of acceptance. As a condition for acceptance, international undergraduate students must improve their English skills before enrolling at CCA.

What if you need to improve your English skills before enrolling at CCA?

You may enroll at one of the following language centers in the United States and complete the necessary level indicated. You must send proof of your passing grade to your CCA international admissions counselor.

Alternatives to the English proficiency requirement

We have many ways for international students to satisfy their English proficiency requirement. Explore your options below.

1. Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores

After March 2016: SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section score of 32 and above in both the Writing and Language test and the Reading test.

Before March 2016: SAT Critical Reading and Writing score of 490 or greater in both sections.

2. Other testing options

  • ACT English and Reading subsections scores of 20 or greater
  • IB English score of 4 or greater
  • AP English Language score of 3 or greater

3. Other ways to demonstrate proficiency

This first waiver option is offered at the discretion of the Office of International Admissions:

  • Minimum three years’ attendance at an English-speaking secondary school in the U.S., at an international school, or at a four-year college or university with English as a medium of instruction (excluding extended-education and English as a Second Language coursework)

Here are more ways to demonstrate proficiency:

  • Completion of U.S.-transferable coursework equivalent to English 1A (writing) and/or 1B (literature) with a grade of C or above
  • Completion of ELS Language Center, Level 112
  • Completion of The Language Company, Level 9

If you believe you should be exempt from taking a proof of English language proficiency test, please speak with your international admissions counselor.


How to obtain your F-1 visa

Three steps to apply

We know the student visa and I-20 process can feel overwhelming, so we’ve broken it down for you into three steps. If at any time you need assistance, please feel free to contact us.

Student visa and I-20 process

Step 1: Prepare financial documents

You must submit financial documentation that demonstrates your ability to cover the cost of attending CCA for at least one academic year. You can view an estimated total cost to attend CCA for the current academic year, which is revised annually.

If someone besides you (such as your parents, relatives, or other sponsors) will be providing some or all financial resources for your studies, a letter of support must accompany the official bank statement (translated to English), with the total amount indicated in U.S. currency. You can find a template for the letter of support that your sponsor(s) can fill out in the I-20 Request Form.

All financial documents are completely confidential.

Step 2: Submit required paperwork

CCA will not issue you an I-20 until you have been admitted to the college, have paid the enrollment deposit, and have submitted all of the following through your Workday Student account:

  • Completed I-20 Request Form
  • Financial documents showing proof of funding
  • Personal information page from your passport

Step 3: Request student visa (F-1)

Once we receive your documents, the International Student Affairs and Programs (ISAP) Office will send you an official CCA I-20. Your I-20 will be express mailed to you at the address you provide on the I-20 Request Form, and you’ll be notified with the tracking number.

Take your new CCA I-20, the I-901 fee receipt, the original bank statement(s), and your CCA letter of acceptance to a U.S. embassy or consulate to obtain a student visa (F-1) for entry into the United States.

What are your country-specific requirements?

Each U.S. embassy or consulate around the world may require documents in addition to those listed above. Check the website of the U.S. embassy or consulate from where you plan to apply for your F-1 visa for a list of all requirements.

What if you’re currently studying in the United States?

If you’re currently studying in the U.S. with an F-1 status, you must submit both an I-20 Request Form and the Request for Release of SEVIS Record Form.

Your current international advisor will need to transfer your SEVIS record to CCA and complete part of the Request for Release of SEVIS Record Form. In addition, to maintain F-1 status, you must carry a full-time course load each semester (minimum 12 undergraduate units). To ensure you can continue to study at CCA, please read about how to maintain your F-1 status.

Key Dates

Important international student deadlines below

International deadlines

International students have the same application deadlines as domestic students. CCA practices rolling admissions, which means applications can be submitted for review after the priority deadlines, but merit scholarships may not still be available.

Fall semester

Nov 15

Undergraduate fall priority deadline: Early action

Deadline to submit application for an early response from CCA.

Jan 10

Graduate application priority deadline

Deadline to submit application for institutional scholarship consideration and admission for the following academic year. Applications received after this date will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

Feb 01

Undergraduate fall priority deadline: First-year scholarships

First-year applicants must submit application by this deadline to be considered for all undergraduate institutional scholarships, including diversity, merit, named, and all-college honors.

Mar 01

Undergraduate fall priority deadline: Transfer scholarships

Transfer applicants must submit application by this deadline to be considered for all undergraduate institutional scholarships, including diversity, merit, named, and all-college honors.

Spring semester

Oct 01

Undergraduate spring priority deadline for first-year and transfer students

Deadline for first-year and transfer applicants to submit applications for spring semester.

Designed to support your needs

From submitting your application to getting your student visa to finding scholarship opportunities, we’re committed to creating a support system that makes it easier for international students to pursue their future in the arts.


Ways to get in touch

Enrollment counselors are standing by

We’re here to answer your international admissions questions through a number of channels, including email, ground mail, fax, and phone.


Michael Rossi (call only)

Assistant Director for International Enrollment

+1 510-594-3687

[email protected]
Image of Kress Maclaren, Assistant Director of International Recruitment

Kress MacLaren (call only)

Assistant Director of International Recruitment

+1 323-507-2299

[email protected]

Username: cca.admission
Online hours: 8:30–10 am and 3–4:30 pm (PT)

Fax number
+1 415-703-9539

San Francisco office

1111 Eighth Street, first floor
San Francisco, CA 94107 USA
Hours: M–F, 8 am–4:30 pm
(Get directions)

Postal address

Office of Admissions
California College of the Arts
1111 Eighth Street
San Francisco, CA 94107-2247 USA

CCA comes to you

Our admissions counselors travel the world to meet students like you who are interested in pursuing arts and design at one of the best art schools in the world. We travel to all regions of the world, so check the schedule below and find out when we might be near you next. Come by and introduce yourself. We love meeting students like yourself who are passionate about transforming culture and themselves through the study of art and design. We also recommend you RSVP, as appointments fill up quickly.


Take advantage of international scholarships

Undergraduate students sitting inside the Oakland campus


Nearly half of all international students at CCA are awarded merit scholarships, ranging from $10,000 to $20,000 USD, based on a student’s portfolio and academic success. Here’s who can be considered:

  • All college transfer students who apply for admissions for fall by the priority deadline are considered for merit scholarships
  • All high school seniors applying for fall admission who have completed their admissions application by Feb. 1 are considered for merit scholarships

Note: CCA cannot offer financial aid in the form of federal loans or federal work-study to international students.

Graduate students during the MArch Critique


Graduate scholarships range from $10,000 to $36,000 USD. Scholarships are highly selective and are issued by the graduate programs based on the strength of the student’s application. If you’d like to be considered for a merit scholarship, please apply by the Jan. 10 deadline. Please note that CCA cannot offer financial aid to international students in the form of federal loans or federal work-study. Learn more about financial aid

Swedish graduate applicants
If you’re a Swedish student entering CCA in fall 2019 and are pursuing an MFA in Fine Arts or Design, you can apply for the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation Scholarship. CCA offers this merit scholarship of $25,000 to one student each academic year, and it’s renewable for one additional year of study.

Oakland College Galleries

Work-study programs

We sponsor several opportunities for international students to gain work experience while getting an education at CCA. If you’re interested in finding a job, explore employment options for international students.

Employment options for international students

On-campus employment

International students with F-1 status may participate in CCA’s Student Employment Program, which offers paid positions on campus as well as opportunities to work in local nonprofit organizations that partner with CCA’s Center for Impact.

Work performed on the college’s premises for an outside contractor or firm, such as a campus cafe, is also permitted if the employer provides direct services to students.

Off-campus employment

International students who have maintained F-1 status for at least nine consecutive months may request authorization to accept non-college employment in their field of study:

Curricular Practical Training authorizes you to accept employment that’s endorsed by a college internship program, employment that’s required for completion of the degree program, or employment for which you’re otherwise eligible to receive academic credit.

Optional Practical Training allows you to work outside of the curriculum in positions commensurate with your level of education. This work authorization may be granted during or immediately after your program of study. Most students choose to participate in this program following graduation since it allows you an additional year of experience in the United States.

To take advantage of either practical training program, you must obtain prior approval from CCA’s international student advisor and the U.S. immigration service.

Although international students’ options for lawful employment are varied, specific eligibility criteria and competition for a limited number of positions restricts your participation in these programs. You shouldn’t rely on income from U.S. employment to meet your cost of attendance. You should also note that immigration regulations don’t allow U.S. employment of F-2 dependents (spouses and children of F-1 students).

Other financial aid resources

International students are not eligible for need-based financial aid, but you may search for additional aid resources from the following organizations. You can also search this list prepared by the International Student Affairs and Programs office.

A word of caution: If a scholarship has an application fee, don’t apply. If you have to pay money to get money, it’s probably a scam.

Private loans

If you’re an international student seeking a private loan, additional lenders may exist other than those noted here. You are not required to borrow a loan and/or select a lender from the resources provided by CCA. We’ll process private loans from any eligible lender you select. CCA may not deny the choice of a lender or cause unnecessary delay in loan certification for any eligible student.

Admitted Students

We’re excited for you to join CCA’s culture of inclusivity and collaboration, where your artistic talents will be brought to their full potential

Your best work is yet to come

Renowned faculty, innovative facilities, and a unique, inclusive culture in the Bay Area makes CCA one of the best art colleges in the world. With everything from pre-arrival guides and international ambassadors to our Summer Start program for international students, we’re committed to setting you up for success at CCA.

Take advantage of Summer Start

This six-week, six-credit program is designed specifically for international students who have been admitted for the summer semester. Through a hybrid-studio course, made up of an interdisciplinary group of peers, students benefit from personalized introductions to CCA’s facilities, take field trips throughout the Bay Area, and receive customized English language instruction.

Summer Start is not only a great way to earn six credits toward your degree, but is also the ideal way to join CCA’s community. You’ll meet fellow international students and get a feel for campus and American academic life before the fall semester begins. Here are some important program dates:

  • Friday, July 5, 2019 - Housing check-in
  • Monday, July 8, 2019 - Summer Start begins
  • Friday, Aug. 16, 2019 - Summer Start ends

For more information or assistance, please contact Calder Yates.

Calder Yates

Program Manager, Special Programs, Summer Programs for International Students

+1 510-594-3774

[email protected]
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